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This Week in Tech History: Google is Born

Electric lights are turned on in New York, the first computer bug is discovered and a tech giant is born… It all happened This Week in Tech History.

This week in 1882 – Thomas Edison displayed the first practical electrical lighting system. The Pearl Street electric power station, Edison’s steam powered plant, began operating and successfully turned on the lights in a one square mile area of New York City.

1927 – The first fully electronic television system is achieved by Philo Farnsworth when his image dissector camera tube transmitted its first image, a simple straight line, to a receiver in another room of his laboratory in San Francisco. His wife later recalled that her husband broke the stunned silence of his lab assistants by saying, “There you are – electronic television!”

1947 – The first case of a computer bug was found. Operators traced an error in the Harvard Mark II computer to a moth trapped in a relay. The bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. And that is why, today we call errors or glitches in a program a bug.

1977 – NASA launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft to study the outer Solar System and interstellar space beyond the Sun’s heliosphere. At a distance of more than 14.2 billion miles from Earth, it is the most distant man-made object from our planet. Voyager 1 is still in service, after 44 years, and its mission is expected to continue until about 2025, when its radioisotope thermoelectric generators will no longer supply enough electric power to operate its scientific instruments.

And this week in 1998 – Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University. Before naming their search algorithm Google, it was known as “Backrub” Money was tight in the early days, and its first server was housed in a custom made computer enclosure constructed of Legos. The company name is a play on the slightly differently spelled word googol – which is 10 to the hundredth power, or a 1 with 100 zeros after it. Google went public in 2004 and quickly became one of the world’s largest media companies.

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Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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